“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” -Miles Davis
We live in a world that applauds and celebrates being busy. Personally, I don’t believe that having a full schedule is, in itself, problematic. What is problematic, however, is not having enough time for the things that truly matter.
Therefore, time management is a particularly valuable skill, but, since it is not something that many of us were explicitly taught, it is an ongoing struggle.
Here are a few tips that will help you to manage your time more effectively:
Keep a Calendar or a Planner
Personally, I like to keep my calendar the old fashioned way – on paper. It helps me to physically look across the week and the month, to see what’s going on and to plan in chunks of time.
Of course, there will always be a faction of people who swear by doing it on their phone instead.
The format is not as important as the consistency. Do what works best for you; just make sure that you mark down all of your commitments, refer to, and update the calendar often.
It can also be helpful to keep a large family calendar. Keep the calendar in a place where everyone can see it. Color code according to family member so that everyone is aware of their commitments. Ask your kids to look at the calendar and figure out what they have going on every day.
This is helpful in ensuring that no one gets double-booked. It also helps your kids to learn how to manage their own time.
Set Calendar Reminders and Alarms
Whether or not you’re keeping your calendar on your phone, you can let technology help you by setting reminders and alarms throughout the day.
If your calendar is on paper, take a moment in the morning to set reminders and alarms on your phone that alert you to your commitments.
If your calendar is on your phone, you should be able to sync all of that pretty easily. Employ Alexa or Siri to help you stay on top of your schedule.
In a time of great automation, use these resources to your advantage. In the same way that you auto pay your bills, set up your devices and other tools so that you don’t think TOO much about how your time is spent.
The less energy you spend managing your schedule, the more energy you will have for the important stuff.
Take a Beat Before Committing
One of the most important things that you and your family can do is to outline your values. I recommend individually outlining the things that are important to each family member. Then, you can all come together and determine, collectively, what matters to the family as a whole.
It is easy to figure out how to spend your time if you are clear on what matters most to you and your family. Once you have figured what’s important, take a beat when an opportunity arises to reflect on whether or not the commitment is in alignment with your values.
If your family values spending time together, then anything that keeps you from doing so is going to be an obvious “no.”
Other decisions might be a little bit more tricky. However, if you’re clear on your priorities and values, the decisions will often make themselves.
So take a moment to think about the commitments presented to you before reflexively saying “yes.” I think sleeping on it is a great little buffer.
Say “NO” More Often
We live in an era of mom/parent guilt. But it doesn’t end in just families. Everyone bears the burden of feeling that they must be and do everything. Unfortunately, the outcome is a lot of resentful and burnt out people.
One way to curb this is to just start saying no to the things that truly don’t work for you.
You can revisit those values and priorities mentioned previously. Or you can just listen to your gut. Usually, we know when we are committing to something that we don’t want to do.
Sure, we all have responsibilities. Maybe you can’t get out of all of them, but that doesn’t meant that you have to say yes to everything that crosses your path.
A way of thinking about it that can be really helpful is this: every time that you explicitly say “yes” to something, you are implicitly saying “no” to something else.
So if you say yes to a PTO commitment that you’re really dreading, you’re also saying no to quality time spent with your kids or your partner. Try to keep in mind what you are sacrificing with every “yes.”
Sometimes, you’ll have to endure the guilt of saying “no” to something that is not important so that you can say “yes” to something that is.